Common causes are poor design, age and deterioration, overloading, or extreme weather. If your deck is in serious trouble the problem usually shows up at the ledger board. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors about 90% of deck collapses happen when the ledger board separates from the house. It’s the key connection that keeps a deck strong and healthy.

What’s a ledger board?

It is a long, horizontal board that is attached to the house’s exterior wall, parallel to the ground. It provides structural support for the deck by connecting the deck to the house, which transfers the weight of the deck and its occupants onto the house’s framing.

The ledger board is usually attached to the rim joist of the house frame with galvanized lag screws. It can also be attached directly to a basement wall with galvanized expansion anchors if it is too low to meet up with the house framing. In either case, it’s important that the connection is extremely solid. A connection to just the exterior siding, for example, will not be strong enough to support the weight of the deck.

rim joist attachment

A ledger board can be attached to an existing rim joist or basement wall. The rim joist attachment is shown here.

What’s your advice?

A new deck is a substantial investment. A common way to cut the budget is to get some friends together for the job or hire a local handyman. If they don’t know their stuff you can end up with trouble that’s unfixable. We strongly suggest going with a professional, but no matter who builds your deck, make sure they’ve got experience and are aware of the singular importance of getting the ledger board connection right.

More questions?

If you have more questions about decks or other subjects we’re happy to answer them. Call 613-736-1122 or hit the chat button on the right during business hours.